Published: 16 August 2012
Author: Ryan Carlisle Thomas
The "Trotter Case" highlights need for specialist Vic Pol abuse unit
Victim's support groups will be closely watching the outcome of the Victorian Parliamentary inquiry. One of the main outcomes for victims has to be that perpetrators of abuse and those who shielded them are brought to account and dealt with through the criminal justice system.
However, there are no clear mechanisms as to how this will occur and questions have been raised as to whether or not Victoria Police have the resources, the systems or the will to deal with the issues of historical sex crimes.
In September 2009, I referred two clients to the police who alleged that they had been sexually abused by convicted paedophile, Ken Trotter, whilst they were resident in the Lutheran Peace Memorial Children's Home. At that time, Trotter was still serving an 18-year prison term over numerous charges, including rape and sexual assault of young boys. Trotter had been described by a Sentencing Judge as showing no remorse and likely to reoffend.
Between September 2009 and April 2012, my clients and I contacted the police repeatedly regarding progress of the investigation. In August 2011, I wrote to the Police Minister, Peter Ryan, urging him to intervene as we had become aware that Trotter was due for release in 2012. In December 2011, Peter Ryan advised that the police investigation remained an "operational mattter" and it would be inappropriate for him to intervene.
In July 2012, it was reported in the Age newspaper that Trotter had been released in June, stripped of his Australian citizenship and deported to the UK. On 23 June, Trotter was brought before the UK courts, having been arrested in Blackpool after a nationwide manhunt when British Police realised that Trotter had not stayed at the address in Blackpool that he had provided. It was reported that the Court heard that Trotter had gone to a Methodist Church Centre in Blackpool where he pretended to be from a job recruitment agency and attempted to "recruit" girls aged 14 and over. It was also alleged that Trotter had set up a door to door sewing machine repair business which the police claimed was a front for child grooming and the same method used on young boys in Melbourne.
Peter Ryan: still waiting on a specialist unit
The "Trotter" debacle shows that there are very large holes in the current capacity of Victoria Police to deal with historical sex crimes.
In September 2010, Peter Ryan, who was then the Opposition spokesperson, said: "We need a specialist unit within Victoria Police dedicated to hunting down these people. That is something we as an Opposition would establish."
Victims are still waiting for the specialist unit.
The "Trotter" allegation is one of many which this firm has referred to Victoria Police. Whilst there is no criticism of the individual police offiicers, it is apparent that either the resources or the specialist knowledge is not there for these investigations to be dealt with in a speedy and efficient manner. Again, to quote the Hon. Peter Ryan, "Division Detectives do a great job but are required to do a bit of everything and therefore don't get the opportunity to gather that level of expertise and knowledge."